HARDY WILLIAM HENRY
Name: William Henry Hardy
Rank/Branch: O3/US Army
Date of Birth:
Home City of Record:
Date of Loss: 29 June 1967
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 105405N 1064218E (XT863055)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 from: raw data
from U.S. Government agency sources, published sources including "Civilian
POW: Terror and Torture in South Vietnam" by Norman J. Brookens. Updated by
the P.O.W. NETWORK 2010.
REMARKS: 730212 RELSD BY PRG
SYNOPSIS: On January 17, 1966, U.S. State Department Foreign Service Officer
Douglas K. Ramsey was driving a truck northwest of Saigon when he was captured
by Viet Cong forces. For Ramsey and for all Americans captured in South Vietnam,
life would be brutally difficult. These men suffered from disease induced by an
unfamiliar and inadequate diet - dysentery, edema, skin fungus and eczema as
well as particularly brutal treatment from guards.
Douglas K. Ramsey was the first to be captured of a group of about 30 Americans
who would be held along the Cambodian border. The was the only group of POWs who
were not released from Hanoi in Operation Homecoming in 1973.
In 1967, the Viet Cong captured another prisoner of war -- Army Capt. William H.
Hardy, who was captured on June 29, 1967 as he drove a truck near Saigon.
Around the time of the Tet Offensive in early 1968, the Viet Cong northwest of
Saigon captured still more Americans: State Department employees, Norman
Brookens and Richard Utecht; U.S. civilians Michael Kjome and James Rollins;
Army Cpl. Thomas Van Putten and Australian businessman, Charles K. Hyland.
On April 22, 1968, four POWs who were held together -- Brookens, Utecht, Hyland
and Rollins -- dared an escape. They had secretly learned to remove their
chains, and on this rainy night they made their break. Within seconds of their
freedom, they were soaked. It was impossible to walk in the thick jungle, so
they crawled on hands and knees. They immediately became separated, and had
barely reached the camp border when they were surrounded and recaptured.
For the next ten days, they were given only several spoons of rice and a pinch
of salt. They were chained and bound with ropes so tight their arms and legs
went completely numb. The ropes were removed after a month, but the chains
remained. The four were rotated between a cage and a pit. Brookens remained in
the pit for several months, lying in his own body waste.
Throughout the spring and summer of 1968, others were captured: Capt. John Dunn
and Pvt. James M. Ray captured on March 18; Pvt. Ferdinand Rodriguez on April
14; Maj. Raymond Schrump on May 23; SSgt. Felix Neco-Quinones on July 16, SSgt.
Bobby Johnson, SP4 Thomas Jones and SSgt. Kenneth Gregory on August 25.
The POWs were kept on the move; some held in groups, and some held alone. It was
a mental challenge to try to keep track of their location, and the POWs report
that they believed they were in Cambodia some of the time, and at other times
near the Ho Chi Minh Trail. During rest periods on the journey they were held in
cages or in deep holes, or chained to trees.
In mid-July, Brookens, Utecht and Rollins were moved to another camp, but Hyland
was left behind. He was released on November 26, 1968. For the first time, State
Department learned that Brookens and Utecht had definitely been captured.
During 1969 and 1970, the Americans were moved frequently as U.S. air and
artillery strikes came closer. The journeys were pure torture, and the POWs
often lived chained to trees while cages were were built for them. They were
sometimes held in swampy areas thick with snakes and mosquitoes. Some of the
marches occurred during monsoon season, and the prisoners, still wearing leg
chains, walked in neck-deep water. During bomb strikes, some from thundering B52
and artillery, the men hid in bunkers.
The POWs' health began to reach its limits. They were suffering from dysentery,
beriberi and jungle rot; some had festering wounds from their captures. In
April, 1969, they moved again, living in the jungle until a new camp was built
In early April 1969, an American prisoner escaped. Army Cpl. Thomas H. Van
Putten had been captured near Tay Ninh as he operated a road grader on February
11, 1968. After making his way to friendly forces, Van Putten identified the
POWs held by the Viet Cong in his camp.
In July 1969, a POW committed a minor offense for which the entire camp was
severely punished for 30 days. The prisoner who caused the commotion was later
taken from the camp. Some POWs reported that they last saw the man, who was only
21 years old, laying on the ground near his cage covered by a piece of plastic.
They believed he was dead and he had died of torture, starvation and lack of
medicine for his ailments. [NOTE: Brookens does not give the name of this POW
who apparently died in July 1969. Although the incident does not match
information found in James M. Ray's personnel file, and Jimmy Ray was not know
to be dead, this account may refer to him.]
In late spring, 1969, the prisoners began to be put together, and they
eventually reached a new camp with above-ground cages, which they believed was
northwest of Tay Ninh near the Cambodian border. Brookens and Utecht were put in
the same cage, and it was the first time Brookens had talked to another American
since the aborted escape attempt two years before.
By June 1969, encroaching artillery forced the POWs westward into Cambodia, but
on July 14, they returned to the border camp where they remained until December
1970. At this time, they were moved deep into Cambodia. Again they were chained
while cages were built. The POWs remained here until April 1972, when they were
moved to a new, and final camp.
In 1969, 1970, and 1971, more Americans were captured: SP4 Gary Guggenberger on
January 14 1969; U.S. Civilians John Fritz, Jr., James Newingham and Tanos Kalil
on February 8; in 1970: SP4 Frederick Crowson and WO Daniel Maslowski on May 2;
SP4 Keith Albert on May 21; SP4 Richard Springman on May 25; in 1971: WO James
Hestand, captured March 17; American civilian Richard Waldhaus on August 4.
The POWs were in terrible condition -- painfully thin, with all manner of skin
ailments, dysentery, and malaria. Brookens was so physically depleted that he
could barely walk without the aid of walking sticks.
In 1972, more POWs arrived: MSgt. Kenneth Wallingford, Maj. Albert Carlson and
Capt. Mark A. Smith, captured April 7; Capt. George Wanat, Jr. and Capt. Johnnie
Ray, captured April 8; Air Force Capt. David Baker, captured June 27; and Marine
Capt. James Walsh, Jr., captured September 26.
Then on the morning of February 12, 1973, the men were told they were going
home. By this time, there were 27 in all, five of them civilians. The group was
taken to a small airport outside Loc Ninh, and after 11 hours of waiting, they
were finally allowed to board the helicopters and start for home.
Norm Brookens had lost 55 pounds since his capture, and was treated for a
ruptured colon, a heart condition, jungle rot, malaria and beriberi.
Thomas H. Van Putten resides in Michigan and had a leg amputated in September
1990 as a result of complications stemming from injuries during his captivity.
James M. Ray and Tanos E. Kalil remained missing in action and were not returned
in 1973. Kalil's name was on the PRG list as having died in captivity. Ray's
fate is unknown.
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and
WILLIAM H. HARDY
Major - United States Army
Captured: June 30, 1967
Released: February 13, 1973
In was late in the afternoon when I was returning from Saigon, via Bein Hoa,
following a truck filled with troops along a highway which I had not travelled
before. The truck stopped in a small village, but I continued on because the
1st Division had recently cleared this road - it was a presumably secure area.
I passed an American platoon, then a mine exploded near the lead tank and blew
a hole in the road. Suspecting ambush, I stopped my vehicle, turned around and
drove down the road away from the explosion. Suddenly, about 30 VC stood up
and started firing at me. I attempted to evade the gunfire, applied the brakes
and skidded across the road. The VC surrounded me and ordered me out of the
vehicle; I was in a presumed clear area and they were armed, including
anti-tank weapons. I became their captive that day in 1967.
For the next six years the living conditions were simple, crude and
uncomfortable. I was moved to several different compounds, all constructed
basically the same. The buildings had dirt floors about 12 to 18 inches higher
than the surrounding ground to keep out the water; thatched leaf roofs; sides
constructed of logs close enough to prevent one from putting his head between
them. The cells were small and contained a bed made of bamboo or wood;
sometimes we POW's were allowed to make tables. When there was no apparent
danger, the cell was locked; if they thought there was danger, we were chained
inside the cell and the door was locked.
Due to poor medical aid and worse food, most POW's were sick during
confinement. The medical personnel were ill trained to perform any function
greater than administering injections. Because of this lack of experience and
medical supplies, the POW's I saw suffered from various illnesses including
beriberi, malaria and diarrhea. The food was sparse and did not contain much
nourishment. I was able to survive on some food that killed others; I had had
it very hard when I was growing up, so some of the foods didn't bother me.
Our limited clothing and cold weather also contributed to sickness. I used a
piece of nylon to keep some of the rain from blowing through the cracks and
into my cell.
The treatment of POW's by the captors included questioning and harassment.
After I was captured I asked questions about the military situation; these
sessions were usually quite lengthy. Harassment varied a lot; the lower
the mentality of the guards the greater the harassment. However the N.V.A.
regulars were more brutal than any of the VC. I was never tortured except
to have my food taken away from me. In my opinion that was worse than being
beaten because we simply didn't have enough food. I've stolen food from the
hogs because they were being fed better than I.
In all of our of years there we were never issued any Red Cross packages. I
was permitted to write but I know the letters were never mailed. I did receive
three letters from my wife all in August of 1970 as part of the propaganda
move because at that time a peace settlement was being negotiated.
My internment began while I was serving as a province advisor to MACV Team 91
Special Duty to the USAID Pacification Office of Civil Affairs. There were
times when I felt that I would never be released that I had lived my last
minutes. If you would speak in terms of a person having nine lives I could
attempt to tell you how it feels to have lived all nine of them to the last
William Hardy retired from the United States Army as a Lt. Colonel. He lives
in North Carolina.